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Five-Gallon Syrup Jug

1850-1860
Origin: America, South Carolina, Edgefield
OH 17", Diam. 15"
Stoneware, ash-glazed, brown
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1939-137
Two-handled ash (alkaline)-glazed stoneware jug. Created by the enslaved African-American potter, David Drake. Drake created alkaline-glazed stoneware vessels distinguished by their massive size and, in some instances, their inscribed verses. Other distinctive features include the deeply corded neck, high arched handles, impressed thumbprint at the base of each handle, and five incised punctates at the neck indicative of its five-gallon capacity. Its alkaline glaze, unique in America to southern potteries, creates a lively pattern of random, foamy drips on the body of the vessel.
Label:David Drake, an enslaved African-American potter, worked for various owners in the Edgefield district of South Carolina. He created ash-glazed stoneware vessels distinguished by their massive size and, in some instances, their inscribed verses. This jug is not embellished with poetry, but at almost 17 inches height and 15 inches in diameter, it has the scale associated with Drake's work. Other distinctive features include the impressed thumbprint at the base of each handle and five incised punctates at the neck to indicate its five-gallon capacity.
Syrup jugs held the fresh molasses that was the principal sweetener in the southerner's diet. Although popular in the South, the form is virtually unknown in other parts of the country.
Provenance:Mrs. J. B. Taliaferro